Matthew 7: 15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.
This short passage of scripture is words that Jesus Christ spoke to His disciples while teaching them. A great crowd was also there, listening.
Now, a couple of thousand years later, we are still a great crowd, listening. Isn’t that awesome?
Today, we also have great need to discern good people from bad people, and right teaching from wrong teaching. We need to examine ourselves, also. To do this, we need a foundation source of truth on which to base our determination. That source is God’s Word, the Bible, the leading of the Holy Spirit, and our submission to God in prayer. First, before we can discern what kind of fruit a person or group of people bears, we need to know what to look for. For example, read Galations 5:19-22 –
19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
The old sinful nature produces bad fruit, and the new nature we receive from Christ produces good fruit; the fruit that grows in the Holy Spirit.
By carefully examining where someone’s thoughts and actions lead them, you can know whether or not that person is of God. It is important to remember that God never changes, which means He doesn’t have opinions that change, like we do. He is who He is, and Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” So if someone asks you to believe, for example, that God has changed his mind about what He said in Romans chapter one about some things people do that are wicked in His sight, then you can know that those teachers are false and anything they do will produce bad fruit. You might not see it immediately, but you will see it. You can even ask God to reveal it, so you know right away.
The only real prophets are fully surrendered to God in Christ Jesus and do not lean on any other understanding, including their own intellect.
Do you want to rightly understand God’s Word of truth? Do you want to always produce good fruit? Good fruit is your legacy to others who come after you. When all else is swept away, your spiritual fruit remains.
Here is wisdom from the Lord, then, to set you on the path to bearing good fruit:
Proverbs 3: 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.